Thursday, July 20, 2006

Seeing What Others Cannot See - Gifts of Dyslexia

More great Tom West research here about gifted dyslexic families. One dyslexic family had 4 Nobel prize winners (in high visualization fields like xray crystallography and electron deflection).

For more about the father-son Nobel prize winners, read the link below. Just because your bright doesn't mean everything is easy though. Lawrence found socializing quite difficult, confessing to his sister, "You and I find 'things' easier than people, Gwendy."

Talents Among Dyslexics and Their Families
LD OnLine :: Dyslexic Talents and Nobel Prizes
Braggs Biography


  1. Hi,

    I'm always concerned about calling dyslexia a gift. Whilst there are poster-boy dyslexics who achieve greatness, I believe this is despite their dyslexia not because of it. The prisons have more dyslexics in them than do the boardrooms of companies. (See my article Sink or Swim)

    Have you any statistical evidence that dyslexia is a gift? Can you point to anything other than individual examples that suggest that dyslexics do better than non-dyslexics in any aspect of life: work, creativity, sport or relationships?

    Changing subjects, will your book be coming out in the UK any time soon?


  2. Hi, Chris. I know we've talked about this before. In terms of the gifts, there we believe there really is a distinct dyslexic advantage among gifted / talented individuals. That is not to say that many of these folks didn't have considerable obstacles to overcome to get their ideas and talents recognized - especially when they went through the standard educational routes.

    Statistics is a murky business when in comes to recognizing talent or innovation - and you've heard about the higher numbers of dyslexic millionaires or Fortune 500 CEOs, right?

    It's a little difficult to know how to sample a study to really answer your question. In our practice - because we really take time to listen to the kids, the gifted dyslexics are really seem to have distinctive higher order thinking gifts - even if they are matched IQ-to-IQ. By rough estimate, we find they are disproportionately represented as "gifted underachievers" (maybe 2/3) because their dyslexia was not recognized.

    Thanks for your link to Sink or Swim. There is a lot we agree with, but two points we'd distinguish - some gifted dyslexics may have trouble with education or life success if they don't have a good school-student match, and if they don't have opportunities that allow them to develop their personal talents.

    There is a lot of emotional baggage and existential angst among gifted dyslexics because the challenges are so poorly recognized. But shouldn't that make us work harder to find them?

    Now to answer your comment about the prisons - because we've heard this before...and often from other dyslexic parents worrying about their kids - there are some kids who may become so disillusioned and frustrated by the burdens of dyslexia that they become antisocial and get into trouble - and we really want to help those folks. But the reading-impaired prison population is usually not dyslexia alone...many have more profound language impairment, brain injury or substantial deprivation, toxic effects of substance abuse, etc. It's not accurate to refer to them as simply dyslexic.

    So, I guess we're a little long-winded here - but a very important point. Lets talk more about this again.

    About your other subject, I saw that posted it's availability in September some time - but that's such a long way off.

    If you send us your regular mailing address (off list if you prefer), we'll pop one in the mail to you. If you like it (we hope), you can mention it on your blog. You have an excellent blog, and it's a tremendous resource for a lot of people.

  3. Anonymous12:13 PM

    I 'd like (no love); to set -up a 'Dyslexia Network thing', for 'Millionaires with Dyslexia' and Even -'B* W" "' etc. etc.
    This could make it a 'Gift', by 'Investing together'; Investing in each other, with supt. and 'tax cuts' etc.
    Interested, in finding out more, supporting??

  4. Do you know about our Dyslexic Advantage community? It's at: The idea behind it is to network, share stories, advice, and resources.

    There is an business / entrepreneurs group that recently started, but we specifically have a non-solicitation policy, so that members don't feel put-upon by other members asking them for funding / money - or asking them to buy their services etc. It's a great group of people from al walks of life and career experiences, different ages, continents, etc.

    If I were a millionaire (which I definitely am NOT), I would wonder about a non-millionaire setting up a group for specifically for millionaires...especially if the point of the group was 'Investing together'.

    Why are you Anonymous?

  5. Chris you need to do alot more research about dyslexia before you speak so ignorantly about intelligence that you obviously don't understand.